Where to meet?

Clarion Congress & Hotel, Cosmos 3A


Xue Zhang
Cornell University

Topic: People’s mobility, labor market disequilibrium and rural development in the US

Key words: mobility, labor market disequilibrium, human capital, rural development


This paper uses the county to county migration and commuting data in the US to explore the impact of labor market disequilibrium on people’s mobility between urban and rural. The labor market disequilibrium is conceptualized by the framework of job-human capital balance, and is measured by the differences between supply and demand in the local labor market and the differences of pull and push factors between labors markets. This research uses Group Logit regression to address the following questions: What factors differentiate people’s commuting and migration? How does the labor market disequilibrium impact people’s mobility? What are the differences in people’s mobility between metro counties and nonmetro counties?

The research finds that the decrease of domestic migrants could be explained by the increase of commuting. People’s mobility, commuting and migration, is not only in response to the labor demand shock, but also as an adjustment force to the disequilibrium between labor supply and labor demand and between labor markets. High skill labor is more likely to move, as expected. This research also finds that low skill labor is stuck in urban. Spatial mismatch still exits as an explanation of the low mobility of low skill labor in urban.

This paper argues that rural development should link the exogenous development and endogenous development emphasizing the importance of local resources and extra-local connectivity, which is illustrated in the neo-endogenous development theory. This paper finds that it is important for rural areas to increase the human capital along with the matched job opportunities. Only increasing educational level will lead to more people working in metro counties. Surprisingly, rural counties with higher educational level have fewer out-migrants. The commuting ‘brain drain’ could improve rural development since people commute rather than migrate to metro counties. The increase of the connection between rural and urban could help rural development. Also, this research finds that more competitive labor in the professional

Go back to the workgroup WG 4